Sitting down to watch the United v Maresille game on Wednesday night, I never imagined that I would be later thinking it would be time for one of United's greatest ever to hang up his boots. Hear me out on this one but I think it's time for Paul Scholes to retire. And not just due to the embarrassment of having to face the fact that Darren Gibson was picked ahead of him. I genuinely think it's time for United to say thanks for everything and move on.
Scholes is, it could be argued, the best midfielder in United's squad, however this has been down to a lack of real competition for that title over the last 12 months rather than anything hugely special that he has done.
I took one look at the United midfield on Wednesday night and was genuinely fearful. Gibson, Fletcher and Carrick. Which one of those would you put in an Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, city, or even Liverpool midfield for that matter?
The fact that a 36 year old was been called upon to try and bring some creativity is in all honesty not good enough for a team that wants to be competing for league titles and European Cups.
The whole of the centre of midfield needs to be looked at starting from the holding player which I guess at the moment is a combination of Carrick and Scholes depending on formation and selection. The supposed role of the 'water carrier' in midfield is to strip the opponent of the ball and give it off to the more creative ones, or at least do something with it himself. In his near five years at Old Trafford I can honestly say I have seem Carrick win no more than 10 tackles and enough has been documented about Scholes lack of ability to tackle. Fletcher it could be argued could play that role but after a return to his 2006 form this season I'm not convinced. This role was made for Hargreeves and it's clear that sadly his days are numbered. United have to look elsewhere here.
From an attacking point of view Anderson, I'm fairness to the lad, has had a good season after many fans had written him off. Yet he is the only player United have who has the confidence to pick up the ball 30-40 yards from his own goal and drive at the heart of the opposition.
Whist Anderson does bring that to the table it can certainly be argued that there is a little creative spark missing from his game that can open up defences.
Whilst Scholes clearly does posses this ability, the problem is that he is sometimes too far behind play to effect anything. The game has to be played at a slower pace in order for him to be effective. This isn't his fault, he's 36 years old for god sake!
What I am trying to get at here is that once Scholes goes, the three that started against Marseille and Anderson are United’s four central midfielders. This frightens me. Why? Because there is not one player there that would frighten Barcelona, Real or Bayern who are probably the three best teams left in the Champions League right now. However I think it does need to happen now so Fergie will realise that what he has left is nowhere near good enough and that changes must be made.
So where do United go? In a perfect world Wesley Sniejder would be wearing red next season but I can't see it happening. A more realistic signing would be someone like Modric, however I think that hinges on how Spurs fare this season. If they fail to make the Champions league then he could end up at OT, but if they do make the top 4, I can't see him leaving. Elsewhere Fiorentina’s Riccardo Montolivo may be an option but in all honesty it's slim pickings.
The same could be said for the earlier mentioned holding role. One stand out player is Everton’s Jack Rodwell who looks a class act all the way. The big question here is would Everton sell another prize asset to United? Everyone has a price but somehow I can't see United spending 30 million on him.
So where does that leave United? Well it means that the scouts are going have to pull something out of the bag a little better than Obertan and Bebe. You can’t replace a player like Paul Scholes, but United must and they must act quickly.